Digital Nomads

How to Make Money as a Travel Content Creator

You’ve heard about people who make money online or who get paid to travel the world, but you want to know: Can you do the same?

Many people want to travel, and their dream is to get paid to do it. Whether you want to be a travel content creator, a travel influencer, or both, this post will help you get started. We’ll explore the types of content you can create, how to publish it and get noticed, and how to make money doing it.

I’ve been publishing this blog for over a decade, but I only got serious about it in 2019. However, I have more than 20 years of freelancing and blogging experience under my belt – all without a “normal” full-time job. So I feel uniquely qualified to help you start down the same path!

Man traveling and taking photos or video

What is a Travel Content Creator?

It probably sounds obvious, but a travel content creator is someone who creates some kind of content related to travel.

The kinds of content you can create are totally up to you! Some common ideas are writing, photography, and videos. You may also make more creative kinds of content, such as drawings and illustrations. 

When choosing a type of content, consider a few things:

  1. What kind of content would you most enjoy creating?
  2. What kind of content would your audience be most likely to consume?
  3. How can you distribute that content and potentially make money by doing so?

For example, if you really enjoy writing, but find video creation too tedious (or daunting to even start), then you probably want to consider travel writing. You could distribute your writing in many different ways.

If you consider yourself a photographer, and you live to take photos of the amazing places you visit, then that could be a better path for you. Or if you truly love to create and consume video, which is super popular right now, then that’s gonna be your game!

Make sure you choose something that you won’t easily burn out on. If you hate to write, don’t try to become a travel writer. You might do it for a while but you’ll eventually decide you hate it and you won’t be motivated to continue. Choose something you love and you’ll be able to stick with it and have fun doing it at the same time.

Woman in dress and hat looking out over Barcelona, Spain

What is a Travel Influencer?

A travel influencer is similar to a travel content creator, but their specific goal is to reach other people, to inspire or educate, and likely make money when people consume their content.

Influencers are generally found on social media or other online outlets, which we’ll discuss below in the section about distributing your content.

Travel influencers often work with brands to help them gain recognition for their products among the influencer’s audience. They may or may not create their own content to do so.

You may think a travel influencer has to have a recognizable name (like the Kardashians) with a million followers. While that can help, brands are often more interested in the engagement of your followers rather than the number you have. So don’t discount this path even if you’re just getting started or don’t have a huge audience (yet).

Different Ways to Create Travel Content

How you create travel content will depend on what kind of content you want to create! Let’s look at the three most common kinds of travel content, and how you would create them.

Blank notebook surrounded by camera, hat, compass, and sunglasses

Writing

As a writer, there are lots of different ways to create and share your content. Writing blog posts is probably the most frequent, and you’ll find thousands of travel blogs across the web.

But blog posts aren’t the only thing you can write. You may choose instead to write magazine or newspaper articles. You may publish travel guides, either printed or online. You could even publish your own travel journals as a source of inspiration for others, and to share stories that resonate with your readers.

Writing is easy in the sense that it doesn’t require a lot of expensive or hard-to-carry equipment. You can use a laptop, or even a tablet or smartphone, or you can use an old-fashioned pencil and paper. (In fact, physically writing in a paper travel journal can be extremely rewarding!) 

Of course, becoming a good writer takes practice and dedication. So while the tools may come easy, the talent takes time to develop. 

Woman hiking in the mountains and taking a photo

Photographs

Today’s smartphones make photography easier than it has ever been. Many content creators use nothing more than a great smartphone and editing apps/software to create amazing travel photos.

Other photographers stick with more professional mirrorless or DSLR cameras. In particular, if your content has long zoom requirements (such as wildlife photography), you may not be able to use your smartphone.

There are even some old-school photographers who still use film!

Most photographers rely on a variety of equipment. For me, that includes a DSLR camera (for now!), a variety of lenses included a telephoto lens, a recent-model iPhone, and software such as Lightroom, Topaz, and more.

When you’re traveling, keep an eye out for things you want to photograph, both for your own memories and to share with your audience. You’ll find there’s a lot of overlap. Practice your photography skills and you’ll find your content improving over time.

Man shooting selfie video

Videos

Videos can also be created using most modern smartphones. Although I’m not a video producer myself, I suspect most of them use a smartphone to shoot videos for both YouTube and social media. Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras can also shoot video. 

(There are also dedicated cameras for video production, so if you’re really doing something professional, that might be more up your alley. I won’t try to talk about video cameras, since it’s not something I know anything about.)

For phones, investing in a smartphone gimbal or stabilizer can help reduce shake in your videos. With cameras, you’ll likely find you need a tripod to stabilize the video. Keep in mind that heavier zoom lenses require studier tripods.

Aerial photography and videography has really taken off (pun intended) lately, so a drone camera might be another thing you want to invest in.

How to Publish Your Content and Gain a Following

A smartphone with social media icons, in front of an airport or mall store

If you only want to create content for your own enjoyment, that’s totally fine! You may have a series of journals that you’ve kept during your travels, or a hard drive full of photos that help you relive the memories.

But if you want to gain influence and exposure as a content creator, you’ll need to publish your content somewhere so that people can find and follow you. 

Here are some places to publish that amazing content you’ve created.

Your Own Blog

No matter what kind of content you create, your own blog is a place to develop your brand, tell your story, and share your content.

A blog doesn’t necessarily require you to write much. We generally think of blogs as having lots of articles (also called “posts”). But a photographer may have a blog that they only use to share their photos, with just enough writing to describe the images.

I believe every content creator should have their own blog, even if it’s not their primary source of exposure. Your own blog is something that you can control, and it’s not subject to the whims of other platforms. (Video-less photographers still trying to get exposure on Instagram know what I’m talking about!)

Some other benefits of your own blog are:

  1. Visitors aren’t exposed to your competitors’ content at the same time.
  2. If you keep a mailing list – which you absolutely should – you can collect subscribers from your blog. Try doing that from a social media account only!
  3. It strengthens your brand, from photos of yourself to a domain name that matches your brand name.

Medium

Writers can also distribute content on Medium.com, a website for writers and readers. This is a good way to get exposure for your writing, especially if you can get content accepted to Medium publications.

Medium allows you to monetize your writing too, and many people have made a great income using Medium. Readers pay a small fee to subscribe, and your revenue comes out of that platform fee.

YouTube

Video producers can share content in a number of places, but the most obvious one (other than social media, mentioned next) is on YouTube. YouTube is the de facto standard for almost any kind of video. 

Hosting video on your own website can be expensive, as files are large, requiring lots of storage space, and bandwidth (transferring data across the internet) costs money. Putting them on Youtube helps them get found, and if you also have a blog, you can embed your YouTube videos on your website too. (Did you know Youtube.com is the second-most visited website in the world, after Google?)

Social Media

Social media is probably the most common type of outlet for travel influencers. This is because the platforms have such a larger number of users, and influencers can interact with their community using the tools provided.

Here are some common social media platforms for different types of content.

  1. Instagram – once a photo-sharing platform, Instagram now features video even more than photos. But both are still common. I would also bet that Instagram still is the most desirable platform for brands wanting to work with influencers.
  2. TikTok – designed for short-form video, this platform is one of the most recent entries but has experienced tremendous growth. It’s so popular that Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube have followed suit with support for short-form videos. This is the place to be if you make travel videos. Another note: it’s easy to use the same video across multiple platforms.
  3. Facebook – the largest social media network that exists, this platform has somewhat declined in popularity since it made its algorithm particularly difficult for “pages” aka brands. It also skews towards an older crowd, but if that describes your audience, it may be worth investing some time in. 
  4. Twitter – yep, people still use Twitter! You can share photos and video, but of course, your tweets are limited to 280 characters. So where you may see Instagram captions that are almost blog posts themselves, you won’t see this on Twitter, unless it’s done as a series of tweets. Twitter is best used to interact with your audience rather than to drive traffic, but if your audience is engaged, you can still recommend brands and products to them when done in a conversational way.

Some other platforms are LinkedIn, for job hunters and business connections; Vero, a newer photography-based platform; and 500px, also for photos.

No matter what network(s) you choose, you need to learn how to use them and dedicate time to interacting with the community that you build on each platform.

Producing Content for Others

You don’t have to be responsible for publishing your own content, especially if you’re not trying to be an influencer. You can produce content that gets exposed in more traditional ways.

For example, writers may contribute travel pieces to magazines and newspapers, or even to other people’s blogs, and get paid for their writing.

Photographers can get hired to produce images (or videos) for destinations, such as hotels, who pay for their travel expenses as well as for the resulting photos or videos provided to them for their own use.

Woman in yellow romper eating breakfast while talking on a phone and working on a laptop, overlooking the ocean with mountains in the background

How to Monetize Your Travel Content

Here’s the nitty gritty – getting paid to produce travel content.

If you’re writing your own blog, the two most common ways to monetize it are to serve ads or to link to affiliate products. Sponsored content is still around, but less popular than it used to be, while brand partnerships are big in social media.

Selling Ad Space

To serve ads, you may work out private arrangements with companies to advertise on your blog. This is the most profitable way to earn money from ads, but also the hardest to manage. Many people use an ad network instead, such as Google Adsense, Ezoic, or Mediavine. The ad network displays ads for its customers, and you get a cut of the money they earn. If you have enough traffic, this can be quite lucrative and could even replace a full-time income.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing means you link to a product for sale, and if someone clicks your link and then buys the product, you earn a commission.

Not just any links work, though; you need to apply to become an affiliate and then use special links that track traffic coming from your website. That’s how the seller (or affiliate company) knows to pay you!

Again, your earnings will be dependent on your traffic, but also on the products you promote. 

Sponsored Blog Content

Sponsored blog content is where someone pays you to publish content on your blog that benefits them. Examples include a guest post used to drive traffic to their website via links, or a review to convince people to buy their product.

Generally you will be paid for the content they provide, or you will be paid more to write it yourself. There are specific rules you need to follow relating to sponsored content, to prevent your website from being penalized by Google.

Brand Partnerships

Similar to sponsored blog content, there is sponsored social media content, usually in the form of brand partnerships. This is where a brand – such as a hotel, a tourism board, or a travel-related product – wishes to promote its offerings to your followers. 

Like sponsored blog content, the content could be created by the brand or by yourself, but usually the photos are your own, because that suggests more of an endorsement and resonates better with your audience than a photo or video the brand provides. In exchange for your posting the sponsored content, they will pay you as well.

A Note About Payment

With any of these options, you may be paid in actual money. You might simply be paid by being given a free product, or your travel expenses to a particular destination might be covered as well. Many times it’s a combination of these.

It’s up to you to determine whether your time is worth what’s being offered. Feel free to negotiate, and to turn down sponsorships that you don’t feel are worth your time. Finally, make sure all payment (whether cash or freebies) are outlined in advance and agreed to in writing. The more specific your contract, the better it will cover any misunderstandings!

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to be a travel content creator. Whether you choose to monetize your efforts by being a travel influencer or running your own blog, is up to you. 

You’ll typically get out of this what you put into it. Don’t be afraid to start slow, if you want, or go ahead and jump in with both feet if your finances and risk-taking principles allow!

Did you like this post? Here are some other related posts you may find useful:

5 Ideas to Monetize Your Travel Blog – This post will help you turn your new or existing blog into a revenue stream. Find out different ways to use your blog to supplement or even replace your regular income.

Build an Amazing Travel Photography Business with Social Media – If you want to build a following on social media, particularly as a photographer, here’s how.

Florida Travel

7 Popular Water Sports in Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is a great place to vacation. It lies along the eastern coast of Florida, about halfway between Jacksonville and Miami, and it has a vibrant surf scene. With fun family activities and great restaurants, you’re sure to find lots to entertain everyone in your party.

But let’s face it – you’ve probably come to Florida for the weather, the sunshine, and the beautiful ocean! So if you’re looking to get out into the water, here are some of the best water sports and activities to enjoy on your Cocoa Beach vacation.

Surfing

Surfing in Cocoa beach

Surfing has to be the #1 sport in Cocoa Beach! After all, it’s famous as being the home of champion surfer Kelly Slater, as well as the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop!

Cocoa Beach features decent-sized waves that are easy enough for beginners, but still offer challenges and excitement for surfing veterans. And the warm Gulf Stream waters can be enjoyed year-round.

The community is tight-knit yet open, and there are lots of great places to surf. The most obvious, though the most crowded, is of course the Cocoa Beach Pier. Here you will find locals and tourists all lining up to catch a wave. But as you head south, you’ll find plenty of other beaches for surfing as well, such as at Lori Wilson Park. The beaches along Patrick Space Force Base are excellent and a short 10-15 minute drive south of Cocoa Beach. Go a bit further and you’ll find Satellite Beach and then Melbourne Beach, all with prime surf spots.

If you’re just learning to surf, then lessons might be in order. There are several companies that offer them, including Cocoa Beach Surf School, Ron Jon Surf School, and School of Surf. If you’re coming from out of state or out of country, and can’t bring your own board, then you can rent one from Cocoa Beach Surf Company, A1A Outdoors, and Oceansports World.

Kayaking

Ocean Kayaking

Kayaking is another fun watersport and there are tons of places to kayak in, or near, Cocoa Beach. Bring your kayak or rent them locally, and try kayaking the ocean or the intracoastal waterway – known as the Banana and Indian Rivers here in Brevard County – or in the marshes and waterways that make up the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to the north of Cocoa Beach.

Looking for something unique? How about a bioluminescence kayak tour?! Between July and October each year, dinoflagellates in the waters of the Indian and Banana Rivers glow whenever the water is disturbed. Our local comb jellyfish do as well (plus, they don’t sting!). Some places even offer clear kayaks, so you can see the bio through your boat.

Try to plan for these tours when there is little or no moonlight, so the contrast between the glowing creatures and the ambient light is greater.

Some tour companies that offer bioluminescence tours are BK Adventure and Cocoa Kayaking.

Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Stand-up paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding has become all the rage over the last decade. It’s easier than surfing, but not exactly easy to do! And it’s a great workout.

A paddleboard looks like a long surfboard, and can be used in the ocean or the intracoastal, or really just about anywhere. If you’re just starting out, you may want to kneel on the board (and stay in still waters) while you get the hang of it. Later on you cna graduate to standing, and then venture out among the ocean waves, too!

Windsurfing

windsurfing

Windsurfing is another popular water sport in Cocoa Beach, especially along the “beachline”, highway 528, between Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach. (Don’t be surprised if you hear locals call it the “beeline”, the highway’s old name. We’re nostalgic!)

Windsurfing involves a sail, similar to one on a sailboat, that’s attached to a special surfboard. Rather than having ocean waves propel you forward, the motion is powered by the wind. This is another great workout in disguise – your arms and shoulders are sure to be tired after a fun day windsurfing!

For lessons and rentals, visit Calema Watersports. They also offering sailing!

Parasailing

Parasailing

Would you prefer to be high over the water, rather than in it? If you’re not afraid of heights, then parasailing is for you!

Parasailing involves getting strapped into this contraption with a parachute attached, then pulled along behind a boat. As the boat accelerates, you’re lifted higher and higher. The views are unmatched! You can even parasail in tandem, so you can enjoy the experience with a friend or loved one.

If parasailing in Cocoa Beach sounds like fun, contact Cocoa Beach Parasail. They’re located in nearby Cape Canaveral.

Deep Sea Fishing

Deep sea fishing with snapper

Deep sea fishing is a popular sport, not to mention a great way to catch your dinner! Cocoa Beach’s location on the coast and proximity to the Gulf Stream means there are ample opportunities for deep sea fishing.

Fishing is plentiful year round, and you may catch species such as mackerel, amberjack mahi mahi (dolphin), grouper, cobia, snapper, bonita, cobia (my favorite!), jack, sailfish, or even a shark!

Or, if you prefer, there’s inshore fishing too, where you might catch redfish, trout, snook, tarpon, and black drum.

There are a ton of companies that can take you out fishing, some of which are Sea Leveler, Fin and Fly, and Lagooner. You can find many others on Google.

Airboat Rides

Airboat Rides

If you want an experience unique to Florida, then you need to take an airboat ride. I left this for last since it’s not really in Cocoa Beach, but it’s not far either.

If you’re not familiar with airboats, these are a sight to see. Imagine a skiff or small fishing boat with a GIANT fan behind it! The fan propels the boat at high speeds, through tidal creeks and around tight turns. It’s a great way to get out in nature, and to have some adventure too. Different companies have various approaches; I’ve done airboat ride that were all about the speed and thrill, and others that focused more on wildlife and signtseeing.

Most airboat rides are done in marshland, so you won’t find them in Cocoa Beach, but a quick trip west of Cocoa (a distinct town from Cocoa Beach) will take you to the waters around the St. John’s River. While on your trip you’ll likely see alligators and turtles, wading birds like egrets and herons, and water-based insects such as dragonflies. The marsh is actually very beautiful, and if you’ve never spent time in it, I highly encourage it.

Companies that do airboat rides close to Cocoa Beach are Instagator, Airboat Rides Melbourne, and Central Florida Airboat Tours.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are tons of options for spending your vacation time on, in, or above the central Florida waters when you visit Cocoa Beach. From the fast and thrilling to the slow and easy, you’re sure to find an enjoyable outing no matter what your preferences are! Cocoa Beach is a wonderful place in Florida to visit, or to live!

Florida Travel

7 of the Best Cocoa Beach Restaurants

If you’ve spent much time on our website, you know how much we value a delicious meal and the right ambiance. Cocoa Beach, Florida is one of our favorite “staycation” towns due to its proximity to our home. So we get a lot of chances to eat out there! Here are some of the best Cocoa Beach restaurants.

1. 4th Street Fillin Station

Avocado toast at 4th Street Fillin Station
Avocado toast at 4th Street Fillin Station

One of the trendiest (in a good way) restaurants in Cocoa Beach is 4th Street Fillin Station. They have an amazing breakfast/brunch and they’re even open for brekkie 7 days a week. They serve lunch and dinner and everything in between, and they’re open late, too.

The menu is extensive and has something for everyone. If you’re in the mood for tacos, sandwiches, burgers, or salads, you can’t beat them. There’s just so much to choose from! My favorite dishes are the avocado toast and jammer biscuit for breakfast, and their bulgogi tacos for lunch or dinner. Speaking of bulgogi, the 4th Street Bloody (Mary) is superb, and it has bulgogi sauce in it. (Bulgogi is a Korean dish of marinated beef.)

Beer, wine, and mixed drinks are available all day long, so whether you want a mimosa with brunch, a craft beer, or something harder, they’ve got you covered.

4th Street Fillin Station outdoor patio

We always sit outside in the back area. The large fans keep it from being too hot in the summer time, and it’s just such a cool patio area.

They’re located at… well, 4th street! Specifically, the corner of N 4th Street and A1A (aka N. Orlando Avenue).

View their Website | Map

2. Florida Fresh Grill

In Florida we love our fresh seafood, and no one serves it up better than Florida Fresh Grill. This is a dinner-only location that’s nice enough for date night, but casual enough for a family get-together. My favorite dish here is the Corvina, a light and flaky fish that’s mild but delicious.

For those that don’t care for seafood, they also have amazing steaks and a couple of other non-fish entrees that I haven’t tried. Wine, cocktails, and beer are available, and you simply have to save room for dessert. Might I suggest the key lime pie?!

The wait staff needs to be mentioned here too. They are absolutely fabulous, professionals in every aspect. We’ve only ever experienced amazing service at Florida Fresh Grill.

Located in the Publix shopping center that’s just south of the big surf shops. Their address is 2039 N Atlantic Ave. Don’t let the strip mall location fool you; it’s absolutely worth a visit!

View their Website | Map

3. Rising Tide Tap and Table

A fresh fish special at Rising Tide Tap and Table
A fresh fish special at Rising Tide Tap and Table

If you want to spend time in the port (Port Canaveral, that is, just north of and adjacent to Cocoa Beach), then you have lots of choices. None are bad, but many of them are similar to each other. Not Rising Tide, though – they truly stand apart, and in the best ways possible.

First of all, during happy hour, they have unique and delicious munchies at great prices, such as pimiento cheese and crackers, and chicharrons. The shishi peppers are tasty and especially fun in a group setting, because only some of them are hot – but when you get a hot one, you’ll know it! There’s no way to tell which ones have the most kick except just to try it.

Their beer menu is extensive, featuring local crafts, international favorites, and more. And of course, they have amazing cocktails and a great selection of wine, too.

For an entrée, you can’t beat the filet and fingerlings. The taste and presentation are both top notch, and the potatoes and broccolini are almost as good as the steak itself. We also like the belly burger and the fun-guy flatbread pizza. Their daily specials are always spot on, too.

Located in the Port, at 523 Glen Cheek Dr, Port Canaveral.

Visit their Website | Map

4. Jazzy’s Mainely Lobster

lobster roll
I scarfed down my last lobster roll without taking a picture, so here’s a stock photo for now…

Jazzy’s is one of our favorite places to eat in Cocoa Beach because it’s unique. Many times if you choose lobster in a Florida restaurant, you’ll get Florida lobster. They’re different from “real” Maine lobsters, as Florida lobsters don’t have claws and they do have long spiky antennae. Now before I start a riot, I will say that both are quite good! But when nothing but Maine lobster will do, it’s time to visit Jazzy’s.

Jazzy’s is casual, in tune to the beach lifestyle and perfect for vacationers. We love their lobster rolls, and you can get an entire lobster as well, if you’ve got the appetite! Other shellfish offerings include calamari, snow crab legs, clams, oysters, and much more. They have fresh fish, too, including mahi and tuna. There are even a few non-seafood choices for people who prefer it. And parents will appreciate their kids’ menu choices.

They also have a seafood market, if you’d rather buy fresh ingredients and make your own dishes at home (or your vacation accommodation of choice!)

Located at 210 N. Orlando Avenue.

Visit their Website | Map

5. The Fat Snook

The Fat Snook is our go-to anniversary dinner restaurant! It’s a true treat for foodies, with special ambiance and some of the most amazing food I’ve had anywhere. Treat yourself to a multiple-course menu with their delightful options.

Of course, there are always specials, and I tend to lean towards those for something different. However, from the main menu, the seared scallops are incredible. The fish entrée is always good and unexpected, but if you don’t like fish, the grilled duck is to die for! For dessert, you must try the bananas foster if available.

Located at 2464 S Atlantic Ave.

Visit their Website | Map

6. Zarrella’s Italian

White pizza at Zarrella's Italian in Cape Canaveral
White pizza at Zarrella’s – I think we added prosciutto to this

There are Italian restaurants actually in Cocoa Beach, but in our experience they’ve been hit-or-miss. So our suggestion for Italian – including pizza – is a short drive north on A1A to Port Canaveral. Just past the pink elephant (part of a putt putt course) you’ll find Zarrella’s.

Zarrella’s is great for both their wood-fired pizza and, at dinner, their more traditional entrees. My personal favorite is the chicken piccata, while my husband almost always chooses the veal parmesan. There are also weekly and nightly specials to choose from. For appetizers, the fried mozzarella (a square, not cheese sticks) and the fried calamari are equally delicious choices.

They also have beer, wine, and cocktails. While I’m on this subject, you’ll find Dragonpoint IPA at Zarrella’s and at a lot of the restaurants around Cocoa Beach. It’s a really good IPA beer from Intracoastal Brewing in nearby Melbourne. If you like IPAs, be sure to give this one a shot!

Zarrella’s is located at 8801 Astronaut Blvd #103, Cape Canaveral

Visit their Website | Map

7. Long Doggers

Long Doggers is a casual indoor/outdoor chain across Brevard County. The one in Cocoa Beach is located on the Causeway just west of The Dinosaur Store. They have good food and drinks, and all of their locations are popular among locals.

Long Doggers is based on a surfing theme, so if you’ve spent your day on the water and want to stick with the theme, come here! You’ll find many of their dishes named accordingly. The décor features surfboards and you’ll even find surfing competitions on the TVs much of the time. If you’re visiting Cocoa Beach for the surfing lifestyle, then this is the perfect compliment. It’s also great for families.

I really like their summer salad, tico pico bowl, and Florida Rueben, which is made with fried grouper instead of corned beef. The actually have quite an extensive hot dog menu. The clam strips are delicious, but keep in mind that they use cornmeal breading – if you don’t like that, shy away from offerings like their fish-n-chips. (Which is otherwise delicious, so if you like cornmeal breading, go for it!)

Most Long Doggers have only beer and wine, but the Cocoa Beach location also has mixed liquor drinks, including “buckets” that you can take to the beach.

There’s a large section of kids meal offerings (found under “Groms”, slang for kids who surf or skateboard). Plus, kids get a free frozen treat after lunch or dinner. Adults get Jolly Ranchers, so be prepared to fight over the watermelon-flavored ones.

Located at 350 W Cocoa Beach Causeway (Highway 520)

Visit their Website | Map

Conclusion

If you’re coming to Cocoa Beach for your Florida vacation, then you’ve got a ton of choices for where to eat. This post only covers a few of the many Cocoa Beach restaurants found in or near the town, but in our opinions these are some of the best. It won’t be hard to find something that offers meal options for your entire party.

You’ll notice we don’t mention anything at the Cocoa Beach pier. In our opinion, the pier is overpriced for what you get, especially when you add in the high cost of parking. However, it can be fun if you’re looking for a bar to drink and hang out, and especially if you’re staying close enough to walk.

Be sure to check out our suggestions for things to do in Cocoa Beach, too!

United States

Things to Do in Asheville for Nature Lovers

Asheville, North Carolina is a beautiful city that’s a popular place to visit in the southeast United States. It’s known for its adventurous spirit and hippie vibe, and is filled with wonderful shops, restaurants, and breweries. But its location in the Appalachian Mountains means that it’s close to many fun activities for nature lovers.

Below are some of our favorite things to do in Asheville if you love wildlife and the great outdoors.

The North Carolina Arboretum

If you love plants, then the North Carolina Arboretum is a must-do. Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Arboretum features different gardens as well as a number of hiking paths. Each of these gives you different exposure to the North Carolina outdoors.

Quilt Garden at the North Carolina Arboretum
Quilt Garden at the North Carolina Arboretum

My favorite garden here is the Quilt Garden. It’s a grid of planted squares with concrete paths in between, planted in such a way that it looks like a quilt. They change the plants seasonally, so if you go at different times of the year, you’ll get to see different “quilts”. Just beside the garden is a raised area that lets you get a more aerial view so you can truly see what the quilt looks like.

Rocky Cove Railroad Exhibit at the North Carolina Arboretum
Rocky Cove Railroad Exhibit at the North Carolina Arboretum

Some other gardens that I really like are the Bonsai Exhibition Garden and the Stream Garden. And I just adore the Rocky Cove Railroad, which is an entire landscape designed around a model train system.

The Arboretum also features several hiking trails of different lengths ranging from a quarter mile to just over a mile. We visited during Arbor Evenings, when the feature live music along with wine and beer. So since it was close to dark, we only did part of a trail. But it ended by Willow Pond, where we saw a lot of butterflies and even a hummingbird moth!

Hummingbird Moth at the North Carolina Arboretum
Hummingbird Moth at the North Carolina Arboretum

There is a nominal entrance fee to visit.

Botanical Gardens at Asheville

Another great place for plant lovers is the Botanical Gardens at Asheville. It’s located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and it features a half-mile walking trail and a small stream. The gardens focus on native plans, which are useful for maintaining the ecosystems in any location. As such, you won’t find as many cultivated plants as you will at the Arboretum, but the botanical gardens are no less beautiful, just different.

There are benches and picnic tables throughout, as well as a gazebo and the historical Hayes Cabin. (Click here for a photo of the cabin on Flickr.)

Entry is free but donations are encouraged.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

If birds are your thing, then you have to go to north Asheville’s Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. The land was originally slated for retail shopping, but in 1988 after raising $400,000, the Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter of the Audubon Society purchased the land. They restored it, added interpretive signs and benches, and built an inner path for walkers and birdwatchers, and an outer trail for runners.

There’s a parking lot for easy access, and right as you enter you’ll see purple martin houses and a faux “chimney” built to house area chimney swifts. We didn’t see the swifts, but there were two purple martins sitting outside the house.

From the parking lot, if you take the path to the left, it will take you to the edge of Beaver Lake, where we saw a song sparrow and two green herons. The path is circular so you’ll get to the lake either way. In the middle is a beautiful wild area full of native plants, where we saw a ruby-throating hummingbird darting among the flowers.

Some other bird species we saw were an indigo bunting, and nesting American goldfinches.

Some sites online mention that they offer guided tours here every Saturday. We found that information to be outdated, so we enjoyed the sanctuary independently. After emailing with Audubon’s past president, Tom Tribble, I found out that they do the guided walks here only on the first Saturday of each month, at 8am between April and September, and at 9am during the remaining months.

There is no fee to park or enter.

WNC Nature Center

The WNC Nature Center is a zoo, but it focuses on animals native to Western North Carolina. Here you can see foxes and wolves, bobcats and cougars (aka mountain lions), as well as bears, snakes, birds, and more. Most of their animals are unable to be released due to either a previous injury or because they imprinted on humans early in their development. As such, they serve as ambassador animals to help educate visitors.

The nature center caters especially to children, and they offer popup animal encounters (ever wanted to pet a snake?), nature-inspired play areas, and even gem and fossil mining activities.

There is a small entrance fee per person.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Asheville sits right on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive that links the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

An overlook from the Blue Ridge Parkway looking east
An overlook from the Blue Ridge Parkway looking east

Not for the faint of heart, the Blue Ridge Parkway has winding roads, up- and downhill climbs, and can be a bit scary or nauseating for those with a fear of heights or who suffer from motion sickness. But if you like these drives, the scenery is amazing.

You can get onto the parkway from several locations within Asheville, and on it you’ll find a number of things to do. We got on the parkway and headed north, and made our first stop at Folk Art Center at Milepost 382. Inside were beautiful displays of artisan works, as well as a store that carries many arts and crafts from local artists.

From there, we continued north to the Craven Gap Trail, where we saw some butterflies and hiked a bit of a trail that was mildly challenging and quite fun. We randomly picked this hike because it was labelled as the only place a United States President has visited the Blue Ridge Parkway; President and First Lady Obama hiked here in 2010. (I’m not sure how they know that no other president ever stepped foot on the parkway, though!)

Glassmine Falls overlook from the Blue Ridge Parkway
Glassmine Falls overlook from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Further north we found the Craggy Gardens visitors’ center at milepost 364.4, then we kept going to the overlook for Glassmine Falls at milepost 361.2. Unfortunately the falls were almost completely dry, and it required binoculars to even see the bare trickle of water present. However, we did see a beautiful cedar waxwing from the overlook, so all wasn’t lost! We also saw a lot of swallowtail butterflies.

All in all, the Blue Ridge Parkway is worth a drive at least once in your life, and more if you enjoy it or want to do many of the hikes whose trailheads are on the parkway.

Appalachian Trail

Speaking of hiking, those who enjoy this activity will love to get in some section hiking of the Appalachian Trail. This famous trail extends from Springer Mountain, Georgia all the way to Katahdin, Maine. And it goes right through Asheville, which is super convenient!

A North Carolina section of the Appalachian Trail
A North Carolina section of the Appalachian Trail

There are a number of hikes you can do along the trail that are easy to get to from Asheville. I personally haven’t hiked the trail here in Asheville; I’ve only done a section of it near the original Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, NC, about a 90-minute drive west of Asheville. So I’ll point you to two other resources where you can learn more: VisitNC.com and RomanticAsheville.com.

Elk Watching in Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley is about an hour west of Asheville by car. It’s fairly close to the popular area known as Maggie Valley. Here you’ll find actual wild elk!

An antlered male elk in fall in North Carolina.
An antlered male elk in fall in North Carolina. Photo by Kim Clark.

Elk used to be common in the North Carolina mountains, but habitat loss and hunting decimated their populations. In 2001 several organizations including the National Park Service began working to reintroduce the species to the area. It’s pretty easy to find them early in the morning or around sunset, even from your car, during the spring, summer, and fall. They are not seen as often during the winter.

Elks shed their antlers in the spring, so if you want to see an antlered male, your changes are better in the summer (when the new antlers are in velvet) or during the mating season (“rutting season”) in the fall.

As you can see, there are many things that nature lovers can enjoy in and around Asheville. Every season brings different activities, so plan your visit according to what you want to see and do. Asheville is an amazing city with so many cultural and nature-related activities that you’re sure to never get bored. In fact, you’ll probably leave and immediately start planning a return trip (like I did!) to see everything you missed the first time around!

Travel & Dining United States

5 Delicious Asheville Breweries You Cannot Miss – Plus a Map!

There’s a good reason that Asheville, North Carolina holds the nickname “Beer City, USA”. According to ExploreAsheville.com, it has more breweries per capita than any other place in the United States! With some many great Asheville Breweries to choose from, how will you decide?

Our take: visit them all!

Granted, you may not have a long enough vacation for that. So here are some of our favorite Asheville Breweries and the ones that put them on the map. We do recommend that you make time for one or two Asheville brewery tours, too.

Highland Brewing Company

Highland Brewing entrance at twilight, Asheville, North Carolina.
Highland Brewing entrance at sunset. Photo credit Monica Miles

Highland Brewing initiated Asheville into the beer scene when it opened in 1994 in downtown Asheville. It was started by a retired engineer from Charlotte. They produce a variety of beers that are popular in the southeast region, but distribution is local; we can’t even get it here in Florida. Their Gaelic Ale is the one that started it all, but their offerings include several IPAs, a pilsner and a porter, and seasonal offerings as well. (They get bonus points for offering an autumn brew that isn’t pumpkin-flavored.)

Their downtown taproom is convenient to all of the restaurants and shops in the area, as well as other breweries. But the highlight of this operation is their main taproom in East Asheville. It’s here that they offer 50-minute tours for $15 a ticket (if you’re 21 years or older). But the property is family-friendly and has two event spaces plus volleyball courts, a disc golf course, and a hiking trail.

Pro Tip: Hit the rooftop beer garden for the exquisite beers and gorgeous views!

Highland Brewing Company
Main Campus
12 Old Charlotte Highway, Suite 200
Asheville, NC 28803
Phone: (828) 299-3370

Downtown Taproom (inside S&W Market)
56 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Wicked Weed Brewing

Wicked Weed was my one “must do” brewery on our 2022 Asheville vacation. I love their beers, and had heard lots of good things about their downtown location. Apparently there’s often a line of people waiting to get in, so we got there for an early lunch on a weekday, and were seated right away in their outside area.

Front entrance of the main Wicked Weed Brewing location in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina.
Wicked Weed Brewing entrance. We ate outside, off to the left of this photo.

I personally didn’t know the story behind the name “Wicked Weed”. I got my first hint when I walked through the inside area and saw a HUGE mural of King Henry VIII on the wall. If you know me, you know I love medieval London, and though Henry VIII is a bit past my area of interest, he’s still pretty fascinating. Also not someone whose face you’d expect to find on the wall of a North Carolina brewery…

The menu cleared up my confusion. Apparently Henry VIII is quoted as saying that hops (a major ingredient of many beers) is a “pernicious and wicked weed”. Holy cow! A shortly-after-medieval-era king’s quote was the inspiration for the name! I think this was just perfect.

Wicked Weed Brewing outdoor seating with beer flight (sampler) and menu.
Classic Beer Flight, Wicked Weed

The four of us (husband and teen daughters) had lunch here and we all enjoyed our food. I also ordered the Classic Flight, which consists of their Pernicious Ale (IPA), Day Light (American Light Ale), Freak of Nature (Double IPA), and S’mores (Imperial Stout) beers. They were all really delicious. Next time I would try the Hoppy flight, but I wanted a variety and some that I hadn’t already tried back here at home.

Food-wise, I ordered the Carolina Bison Burger with pimiento cheese and bacon jam. SO GOOD! My family enjoyed the shrimp po’boy, kale Caesar salad, and Cubano sandwich.

Their daily brewpub tours are free, but participants must be 21, so we didn’t join one, unfortunately. We’ll have to go back later. I would definitely come here again! Also it’s really conveniently located in downtown, and a short walk to shopping areas like the Grove Arcade, as well as a number of other breweries.

Wicked Weed Brewing
91 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 575-9599

Funkatorium
147 Coxe Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

(There’s a Wicked Weed West in Candler, NC as well.)

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Front entrance to Sierra Nevada Brewery in Asheville, North Carolina.
Sierra Nevada entrance. Photo credit: Monica Miles

Sierra Nevada Brewery is located outside of Asheville in a town called Mills River. It’s halfway between Asheville and Hendersonville, so it’s a place to stop if you’re travelling between the two communities, or perhaps on your way back from a show at the Flat Rock Playhouse.

The property is huge, so don’t be surprised when you drive up! The taproom is separate from the restaurant, and both are worth a visit. Their food is farm-to-table and locally sourced, so expect fresh ingredients with a dash of the chef’s creativity.

The back area has a beer garden where you can sip one of their many beer offerings while enjoying the scenery. Or take a stroll through the beautiful Mills River Estate Garden, which is full of flowers during the warmer months. Outdoor areas are dog-friendly so feel free to bring your pup!

Make sure to head upstairs to see the production facility, or if there’s space, join the official tour to find out all about their approach to beer. Their tasting tour is, of course, for ages 21 and up. But some of their other tours are ages 12+, so if you have tweens/teens you’ll be glad to know they can tag along if they meet the age requirement. The tours have a small fee associated with them.

Sierra Nevada Brewing
100 Sierra Nevada Way
Mills River, NC 28732
(828) 708-6242

New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewery campus in Asheville, North Carolina.
New Belgium Brewing. Photo credit: Monica Miles

New Belgium Brewing’s “Liquid Center”, or tasting room, is located in the River Arts district, in the southwest part of Asheville and along the beautiful French Broad River. They offer a very popular tour of their facility, which you can join on the spot, or reserve in advance by phone or email. This tour is especially kid-friendly, and you’ll find a surprise slide at the end, plus other fun photo spots. The tour teaser is free for all ages; others are free for kids under 5.

There’s no restaurant on-site, but a rotating selection of food trucks will satisfy any hungry appetite for food. If you’re here for the beer – as most people are – you’ll enjoy their signature Fat Tire amber ale. It was named after tires on a mountain bike during the founder’s time in Europe, and also gives nod to the sport that is popular in both Asheville as well as the mountains of Colorado where the company is headquartered.

Their Voodoo Ranger line includes an IPA, an Imperial IPA, as well as hazy versions of both. This is definitely a brewery that caters to the India Pale Ale crowd! They also brew a sour and a couple of lagers. And just in case you’re visiting with friends or family who aren’t beer drinkers, you’ll also find their hard seltzer to be a pleasing alternative.

New Belgium Brewing
21 Craven Street
Asheville, NC 28806
(828) 333-6900

Bhramari Brewing Co.

Front entrance to Bhramari, an Asheville Brewery in the South Slope area.
Entrance and outside porch at Bhramari in Asheville’s South Slope

Bhramari Brewing Co. was on my list because I adore their Neon Ghosts IPA. I have to admit that I sometimes have a tendency to buy a beer because I like the label, and this is one such beer. It’s covered with an illustration of psychedelic eyeballs that somehow speaks to me. After buying it based on the packaging, I was super pleased to find I loved the beer inside just as much! It’s a New England IPA with Mosaic and El Dorado hops.

We visited their brewery toward the end of our day in downtown Asheville, so I grabbed a pint of Neon Ghosts, knowing I loved it. My husband ordered a Murder on the Mountain black kolsch, and I got a taste and liked it a lot too. Sometimes he tries something and doesn’t like it, but he liked this one – I only got one taste before he finished it!

Inside seemed a bit grungy, but the staff was nice and helpful. The outdoor porch area was casual and fun for our family and my sister and her kids as well.

The food is a little odd – my sister’s salad had popcorn on it. They also charge a hefty “service fee” on your beer and food bill, and anything extra (like a side of ranch dressing) has yet another charge. So while I do love the beer and will continue to buy it, I don’t know that I’d go back to them in person… at least not until I’ve managed to visit all the others Asheville breweries!

Bhramari Brewing
101 South Lexington Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 214.7981

Asheville Breweries Map

You asked and we delivered! Check out this custom Google Map showing all of these breweries at one time.

If you click the little icon to the left of my face in the map header, you can turn the layers off and on. One layer shows only the breweries featured in this post. The other shows all the rest.

The icons on the right side of the map header let you share the map (please do!) and to view it full screen.

Asheville Beer Festivals and Brewery Tours

A city can’t be called Beer City USA without being home to some amazing beer festivals!

The best-named festival on the list has to be Burning Can Festival. (It was supposed to be this month, but Oskar Blues’s website doesn’t mention it, or any other events, so I’m not sure. I had to mention it just for the creative name!) Other favorites are Tour de Fat Fall (New Belgium), Oktoberfest (Sierra Nevada and another multiple-brewery event as well), and the New Year’s Eve Keg Drop (Thirsty Monk).

If you’re interested in a walking tour of multiple downtown breweries, try Asheville Brewery Tours or BREW-ed. Prefer a party bus? Hit up a different set of breweries with the Party Bus Brewery Crawl from Asheville Adventure Company.

List of Asheville Breweries

Well, we’ve yet to visit all of Asheville’s breweries, so there are many not covered here. Here’s as complete a list as we’ve been able to compile from around the internet, including places that do hard cider. Keep in mind that new ones may have been added, and some may have closed, since we created this list.

Beer at Green Man Brewing, Photo credit Monica Miles.

Locations outside of Asheville are listed only by town name, but all are close.

Love Asheville? Check out our related post Things to Do in Asheville for Nature Lovers!

Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands

Top Tips for Traveling to Australia

Australia is one of the most magnificent places to travel to given the diversity of the landscape and nature. It’s known as a top location for backpacking, camping, road trip, and diving and is also known for its world-class beaches. The wildlife is particularly incredible, since about 90% of the native Australian animals cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Since it is such a popular destination, we decided to create a post full of tips and information to help you plan and enjoy your next adventure in Australia.

When to Visit

Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Overall, the most popular time to visit Australia is from April to September. The weather is lovely since most of the country is dry and warm. In the south of Australia, March to May (autumn) is a particularly great time to visit.

It is important to keep in mind that this time is very crowded and there will be many tourists. If you’ve come to Australia to take advantage of hiking, then June to August is a great time to visit.

The low season is from October to March, when the weather is far too hot and humid, practically unbearable, especially in the Red Center and most of Western Australia. It is worth mentioning that October to April is also “jellyfish season”. It is best not to travel during this time if you plan on doing any swimming or other water activities, as the waters are unsafe.

Where to Go

Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, occupying a territory of 7,692,024 square kilometers, which is more than the size of all EU countries. Most Australian travel guides will tell you to spend a lot of time in the country and try to visit as much as you can. Remember that Australia isn’t just a country, but an entire continent.

It is best to choose just two or three areas to focus on your first visit. We suggest that you get organized and create an itinerary for your journey down under. An itinerary will make it much easier to have the experiences you really want, and ensure you make the most of your time. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Sydney

Sydney, Australia

Australia’s largest city with countless activities and things to see such as: Sydney Harbor bridge, surfing at Bondi Beach, partying in King’s Cross, sailing across the harbor and visiting the Opera House.

Canberra

Canberra is a beautiful city with tons of museums including the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial. In addition, you should take the opportunity to climb Mount Kosciuszko, which is the tallest mountain in Australia at just over 2,200 meters.

Cairns

Cairns, Australia

Cairns is located in the far north of Queensland and is located on the coast. This tropical city is known for its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and its indigenous Aboriginal cultural park. Take the opportunity while you are in Cairns to sail around the Whitsunday Islands, which are some of the most insanely diverse islands in the world. In addition, go on some incredible rainforest hikes, lay out on the white sandy beaches and of course, check out the Great Barrier Reef.

Uluru

Uluru is one of the most popular destinations in the country. While it may seem like a simple attraction, it’s a breathtaking sight and quite inspirational to all who get a chance to see it. Make sure to visit the Aboriginal center to learn about Aboriginal history and culture.

Uluru is sometimes referred to as Ayers Rock.

Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is a very relaxed city where you can hang out by the river, walk through the city gardens, eat delicious food, enjoy the art, and party in St. Kilda.

Brisbane

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and is a large city with museums, gardens and other incredible activities. While you are in Brisbane, you should definitely explore Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island that is a popular spot for camping, swimming and hiking.

Darwin

Kakadu National Park

Darwin is a cool city that has beautiful beaches and interesting museums and is close to countless nature parks. One of the most famous, Kakadu National Park, which is one of the largest in Australia. This national park has wetlands, rivers and sandstone cliffs, and is home to almost 2,000 plant and animal species . You can find Aboriginal rock paintings through the national park that date to prehistoric times.

Adelaide

Adelaide is a beautiful city that is home to the Art Gallery of South Australia, which has an extensive collection of Indigenous art, and the South Australian Museum, which displays natural history. While you are in Adelaide, be sure to visit Kangaroo Island. This island is Australia’s third-largest and is home to a variety of animal species and an incredible wilderness to explore.

Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is an island state of Australia and is well known for its natural beauty and the incredible nature in Freycinet National Park, the Bay of Fires and Cradle Mountain. You will also be close to some of the most incredible tropical rainforests in Australia. There is so much to see and do in Tasmania, so be sure to add this one to the list!

Flying to Australia

Getting to Australia from New Zealand is quite a short trip! The majority of Australian tourists come from China, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, with flights up to 17 hours long. If you book early enough, you can find excellent rates for direct flights to Australia.

Traveling is perhaps the most exciting yet stressful activity for most people. Not only do you have to worry about bulky luggage or having all the documents such as passport and plane ticket, but also finding a parking space!

Finding parking before you leave is an important part that is often relegated to the last moments of travel arrangements. Fortunately, parking doesn’t have to be a chore. With companies like Flyparks, you can find cheap airport parking through airports across Australia, New Zealand and even The United Kingdom. So if you want to save on Nelson Airport Parking or even Auckland Airport Parking, then check out Flyparks!

Traveling within Australia

Transportation within Australia

As we have already discussed, Australia is a very large continent. It is recommended to fly between destinations or rent a vehicle as distances are quite far. Time. One of the most common mistakes that first time travelers make is trying to experience all of Australia within 2-3 weeks. Below are some of the top methods of transportation for getting around Australia.

City Transit – All of Australia’s cities have reliable, affordable public transportation systems. This is the cheapest way to travel within the cities.

Air Travel – Flying is one of the most efficient ways to city hop, but it’s not the cheapest.

Bus – You can find really cheap bus tickets, especially if you book in advance. Greyhound also offers several bus passes. You can also use Backpacker Bus.

Trains – Australia can be seen extensively by rail. Train lines exist mostly on the east coast with only two other major lines in the country: from Melbourne to Darwin and from Sydney to Perth. Beyond that, train’s aren’t very common, and tend to get quite expensive.

Rideshare – This is a very simple option for budget traveling within Australia.

How to Save Money?

How much does it cost to visit Australia? Australia can get quite expensive depending on the activities that you decide to do. However, there are always ways to save money here and there. Here are some suggested budget tips for traveling to Australia:

  • Drink goon (box wine)
  • Cook often
  • Car share – Take advantage and hitch a ride with other travelers by using sites like Gumtree, Jayride, or hostel messaging boards.
  • Book tours as a package – Booking activities together through a hostel or tour agency can get you a discount and save you hundreds of dollars.
  • WWOOF or Workaway – Both are programs that allow you to work for free room and board.
  • Couchsurfing

General Travel Tips

Mt. Buller, Australia skiing in winter
  • Tipping. Tipping in Australia is not mandatory and also not super common. Only tip if you exceptionally enjoyed the service.
  • Sun Protection. The sun is very intense – bring lots of sunscreens!
  • Seasons. Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are completely opposite of the northern hemisphere. It is important to note that this is for the southern part of the country but not the north.
  • Purchase a SIM Card – You can purchase prepaid SIM cards in Australia to use in any mobile device.
  • Before you book any international trip, we recommend getting travel insurance.
  • Be sure to check if you need to apply for a 3-month travel visa before you head out!

Now that you have finished reading all the travel tips, you are officially ready to plan your next adventure to Australia.

California Travel Travel Photography

14 Incredible Spots to Photograph San Diego Sunsets

California is known for its amazing west coast sunsets. Those of us who don’t live there dream of being able to get the perfect sunset photo, perhaps with a pier, surfers, rock formations, or palm trees sprinkled in. San Diego sunsets are among the finest sunsets in the world, either to photograph or just sit and enjoy.

I live in Florida on the east coast, so I can see a sunrise over the beach, but never a sunset. Unless I drive over to the west coast, of course, but that hardly feels like the same thing! Plus, I’ve spent more time in California than on the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’re heading out to San Diego and want to catch a sunset – or two or three – here are some of the best places to go.

Best Spots to See a San Diego Sunset

Some spots are popular and crowded, while others are less known to tourists. Here are some of the best places in San Diego to watch the sun go down each day.

Windansea Beach

Sunset at Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach is located in La Jolla, and it’s considered one of San Diego’s most beautiful beaches. That’s especially true at sunset, when the sun sinking into the Pacific Ocean lights up the sky and waves so strikingly.

Windansea is a popular spot for locals, and less well-known to tourists. It’s even dog-friendly in the mornings and evenings, so if you want to catch the sunset with your pup, you can! Just make sure Fido is leashed.

While there you may see surfers, as it’s a great hotspot for the sport. (The surf can be rough and dangerous, however, so it’s only recommended for experienced surfers and swimmers.)

You can sit on top of the rocky outcroppings, or if the tide is low, on the beach itself. Either will give you the perfect vantage point for amazing San Diego sunsets.

Ocean Beach Municipal Pier

San Diego Sunsets at Ocean Beach Pier

The storied Ocean Beach Pier is 1971 feet long and a favorite for tourists. Locals enjoy fishing from the pier, and that was its original purpose when built back in 1966. It’s close to some other major attractions, such as SeaWorld, making it an easy walk or drive for visitors who are in San Diego for family activities.

You can get amazing uninterrupted sunset photos from the end of the pier, or back up a ways along the beach to see the sunset with the pier in front of it. You’ll likely get to watch some incredible surfers at the same time.

This is a popular place to catch the sunset, so give yourself enough time to beat the crowds, especially if you want to walk to the end of the pier.

Cabrillo National Monument

Sunset at the Cabrillo Lighthouse

Point Loma, with the Cabrillo National Monument and two lighthouses, is a great visit any time of day. The new lighthouse is pretty ugly, but the old one is quaint and full of charm. The monument itself is quite lovely. One of the most incredible sights, however, is the view of downtown San Diego, as well as the Coronado Bridge.

Due to its location, this can also be a wonderful spot for the sunset. Keep in mind you’ll need a pass, or to pay an entrance fee, to visit.

If you’re there at low tide, you can also make your way down to the tide pools to see really cool ocean critters up close.

Hospitality Point, Mission Bay

Sunset at Mission Bay, San Diego

Hospitality Point is a lesser-known spot between the popular Ocean Beach and Mission Beach, but slightly more inland. It’s located at the entrance to the Quivira Basin. There are several spots for parking along Quivira Court.

You won’t get an uninterrupted photo of the Pacific Ocean, but many photos are better for having items in the foreground. Try capturing items silhouetted against the sunset behind them for a dramatic photo. Or just hang out and enjoy everything around you as the sun goes down!

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Sunset Cliffs, San Diego Sunsets

With a name like Sunset Cliffs, you know it has to be perfect for catching a San Diego sunset! It’s also easy to figure out for tourists, so expect this one to be crowded.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is just south of Ocean Beach. The cliffs have a pretty dramatic drop-off, and including them in a sunset photo can produce lovely results. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a migrating whale off the coast!

You can find parking on Lomaland Drive and on Ladera Street where it intersects with Cornish Drive or with Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. Get there early to make sure you get a spot.

While you’re at Sunset Cliffs (and it’s still light), you may want to visit the Sunset Cliffs caves as well. They’re pretty amazing!

Scripps Coastal Reserve Biodiversity Trail

Scripps Coastal Reserve Trail

Scripps Coastal Reserve is owned and managed by the University of California Natural Reserve System. It covers 126 acres of land in La Jolla, just outside of San Diego. Primarily it is used for teaching for the university system, and only parts of it are open to the public.

The trail is only a half mile and considered an easy hike, with great views of the beach. Some have reported that the gate has been locked recently, so you might want to have a backup plan in case this is the “new normal” for this location. The best resource is probably the official website, in the Visit the Reserve section, which also has directions to the trail.

Crystal Pier

Crystal Pier Sunset

Crystal Pier is located in Pacific Beach, which is south of La Jolla but north of Mission Beach. It’s part of the Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages now. The cute little white cottages are right on the pier, but not so far out as to interfere with the views of the setting sun!

You’ll find that fishing is quite popular at Crystal Pier, and the waters nearby are popular with surfers. Either activity could make for a beautiful foreground with a colorful sunset sky behind it. Or head out onto the beach to get a photograph of the iconic pier itself!

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove sunsets

La Jolla Cove is a beautiful park-like setting, with cliffs overlooking the tidal pools and beach. The semi-circular cove gives you lots of opportunity for a beautiful foreground with the sunset behind it. If you want to capture pictures of seals and sea lions, this is the place to do it – any time of day!

The area is also great for seabirds such as cormorants, who rest (and nest) on the cliff side.

The only question is whether you want a birds-eye view from the top of the cliffs, or be down with the action next to the beach! Either way you’re sure to catch a beautiful San Diego sunset at this location.

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines sunset

Although the name Torrey Pines is most closely associated with golf, it’s actually a state national reserve with lots of hiking through and around protected lands. Many of the trails offer beautiful views of the sunset; Razor Point trail is a good option.

Or, like other San Diego locations, you can get down to the beach for a shot of the sun setting into the waves. Just don’t go within a few hours of sunset, as they warn you of dangerous conditions including rockslides.

Palisades Park, Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach sunset

Palisades Park is an easy choice for a beach sunset photo, but that makes it all the more popular for tourists. If you want to try this location, get there early. The park is located in Pacific Beach close to Crystal Pier, mentioned above. The good news is that you don’t need to do any hikes or climbs to enjoy this location.

Coronado Island

Coronado Island Sunset

Hotel del Coronado, with its white walls and red roof, is an iconic sight on the island of the same name. Getting there is a simple, yet frightening for some, drive over a really big bridge between mainland San Diego and the island of Coronado.

Click here to book a room at the Hotel del Coronado, or consider other nearby hotels if you prefer a less expensive option.

Even if you’re scared of heights, it’s worth the drive for the beauty of the island alone. Wonderful beaches, small shops and cafes, and the laid back lifestyle make Coronado a special destination within the greater city area. It’s also perfect for sunsets.

Coronado Beach, located directly behind the hotel, makes for beautiful photos. It’s a white sand beach with a special attraction: the sand actually glitters, due to small particles of mica within it. Make sure to include some of the manmade structures of the island to truly capture the location within your sunset composition.

Coronado’s ferry landing also gives you a great view of downtown San Diego, so take time to capture that as well!

Oceanside Pier

Oceanside Pier

Oceanside Pier is in the town of the same name, and it’s a bit north of San Diego. But the almost-2000 foot long pier is a timeless sight in the area; it was built in 1888 so you know it’s a classic! The original was partly destroyed in a storm, so the current pier isn’t really that old. In fact, there have been six different piers in this location.

Oceanside is another great location to capture the sunset with the pier itself in the foreground. Like other locations, you’ll usually find both surfers and fishermen here as well. While on the pier itself, take time to enjoy the street performers.

Mt. Soledad

Sunset view from Mt. Soledad

The Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial, less than a mile from La Jolla, is a great place to get above the average height for San Diego, giving you breathtaking vistas in all directions. You might even get lucky enough to get a reverse sunset, as the setting sun reflects off clouds to the east.

The memorial is known for its tall promontory topped with a beautiful white cross. What you might not know is that this is the third cross to hold this position of honor. The one that stands there now was erected in 1954 to honor servicemen and women lost in the first and second world wars and in the Korean war. (While visiting, please show appropriate consideration and respect.)

Of course, one of the most striking scenes is the cross itself with the sunset arrayed in colors behind it.

Balboa Park

Sunset at Balboa Park, San Diego

I bet you thought all San Diego sunsets happened at the beach! While the Pacific Ocean does make for a great sunset photo opportunity, don’t overlook the possibility of more inland locations.

Balboa Park is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, along with 16 museums and 1200 acres of urban green space. Its architecture is well-preserved and offers the chance at unique photographs, whether you include the lovely fountain, the California Tower, or any of the beautiful gardens.

The park itself is open 24 hours, so you don’t have to worry about closing times, unless you want to be inside the zoo or a museum or such.

What Time Does the Sun Set in San Diego?

During the summer, the sun sets in San Diego between 7:30 and 8:15pm. During the winter, it actually happens before 5pm on the shortest days of the year.

When formulating your plan to photograph San Diego sunsets, make sure to check the sunset based on what time of year you are there. You’ll also want to make additional time for parking, hiking or walking to the location you want (such as the top of a cliff or the end of a pier), and time to set up any equipment such as tripods.

If you’re trying for a popular location during a busy time of year, allow extra time for crowds as well. The sooner you arrive, the more likely it is that you can stake out your desired spot.

Conclusion

Hopefully you can see that there are tons of options for photographing a San Diego sunset! This list will give you plenty of different views, with different foregrounds and backgrounds, so you can get a variety of shots or the one perfect photograph you’ve hoped for all along. Good luck!

Beaches of the World Florida Travel

11 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Florida, probably originally because it was the home of Major Nelson and crew on the old TV show I Dream of Jeannie. So it’s no wonder that tourists flock to the area in search of fun and relaxation. Let’s look at some fun things to do in Cocoa Beach.

In addition to I Dream of Jeannie, Cocoa Beach is also the hometown of surfer Kelly Slater. In fact, you can see a statue of him at Triangle Park.

Things to Do in Cocoa Beach

So…what’s so great about Cocoa Beach? Here are some of the most interesting things you might choose to do during a visit.

1. Walk Out Onto the Cocoa Beach Pier

Cocoa Beach Pier

The Cocoa Beach Pier is a classic that’s been around forever. It offers great views of the water and, typically, lots of amazing surfers. It also has shops, restaurants, and a bar at the end of the pier with incredible views. It’s not the best place to dine or go shopping, but it’s a great place for photos. If you’re visiting during December, it’s also a fun place to see the iconic Skydiving Santas. (If you want to see the Surfin’ Santas, you’ll need to go a bit further south to Coconuts on the Minutemen Causeway.)

The restaurants here are overpriced and not that great, so save your meals for one of these other great restaurants in Cocoa Beach.

2. Hang Ten or Just Go Shopping at Ron Jon Surf Shop

Ron Jon Surf Shop

If you drive down to Florida you’ll see signs for Ron Jon’s for hundreds of miles. Literally. Wanna know why? It’s HUGE. Like, overwhelmingly huge. Right at the intersection of SR 520 and Highway A1A, you simply cannot miss it. Unless you get it mixed up with the similarly large Cocoa Beach Surf Company next door. Both establishments are fun places to shop for T-shirts, casual wear, surfboards, skateboards, home décor, souvenirs, beach gear, and swimsuits.

If you want to try surfing, Ron Jon also has a surf school. They cater to beginners and offer private and group lessons, as well as surf camps over spring break and during the summer.

For more surfing fun, check out the Florida Surf Museum! Prefer dry land? Bring your board and hang out at the Cocoa Beach skatepark instead.

3. Watch a Rocket Launch and Tour Cape Canaveral

Our county boasts Cape Canaveral, so you can easily understand why we’re nicknamed the Space Coast. We even petitioned many years ago to get the “321” area code because it sounds like a launch countdown. Although the shuttle program has ended, you can still see launches of Delta and Atlas rockets easily from the beach. Many other companies are doing commercial flights as well, including SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Astra.

To find out when you can view a launch, check the calendar on the Space Coast Launches website. They’re becoming more and more frequent (there are three scheduled today as I write this!)

For a more detailed space experience, Kennedy Space Center is just a short 30-minute drive away. There you can visit the rocket garden, see the Space Shuttle Atlantis, enjoy an IMAX movie, or take a bus tour around the property to learn all about the history of space travel. There’s something at Kennedy Space Center for all ages, but keep in mind that the bus tours are long and younger children may get bored. Especially if you feed them Astronaut Ice Cream before you embark!

If you enjoy Florida lighthouses, you may also want to schedule a tour of the Cape Canaveral lighthouse.

4. Find a Nesting Sea Turtle (but be respectful)

Sea Turtle Nest

Every year, the beaches of Brevard County get a lot of sea turtles who come ashore to nest. The majority of them are loggerhead and green turtles, and they dig holes to make nests on Cocoa Beach and surrounding beaches. You’ll see nests marked like the one shown above, so be careful not to walk too closely.

If you want to see a turtle in action, you’ll need to visit between May and October and take a very early morning walk. Although some sea turtles definitely come ashore at Cocoa Beach, your best best is to head south to Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, about 45 minutes south on Highway A1A. We try to arrive well before dawn. As you walk, look toward the sand dunes either for a turtle itself – they’re huge – or for the telltale sign of sand being kicked up into the air.

If you’re not a morning person, you can still look for the tracks that the turtles make when leaving and returning to the sea. This photo shows you what they look like so you’ll know them when you see them!

If you find a sea turtle, make sure to maintain a respectful distance. Never touch a sea turtle or even approach too closely, and don’t approach them at all until they’ve finished their nesting activities, including while they’re covering the nest with sand. If you’re out at dark, never shine a flashlight on a turtle, as they mistake lights for the ocean and can end up going the wrong direction.

Many of our locals support local preservation efforts like the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. Sea Turtle Nests are clearly marked, nighttime lights are prohibited on beaches, and we’re even known for our annual Turtle Krawl 5K race every fall (just south of Cocoa in nearby Indialantic).

5. Explore the Cocoa Beach Dinosaur Store

Photo by Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos on Flickr
Photo by Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos on Flickr

The Dinosaur Store and Museum is a not-to-miss attraction for all ages! They have incredible fossils you can view. They have a variety of hands-on activities suitable for all ages. You can pan for fossils in a sluice, play a variety of science-based games, and ride the Wild Nile Raft Ride (which is surprisingly exciting and fun!) You can meet over 25 animals, including alligators, snakes, and lizards. And their shop features dinosaur-related gifts, amber jewelry, real fossils, and unique home décor items.

6. Get in a Round of Miniature Golf

Lighthouse Cove Miniature Golf

Miniature golf aka putt-putt is a staple of any beach vacation, and Cocoa Beach is no different! My favorite is Lighthouse Cove Mini Golf, a newer location. It has two paths to choose from, with charming décor and fun, challenging holes. Grab a craft beer or a scoop of their delicious ice cream after you finish your 18 holes.

7. Learn About the Book and Movie at the Wizard of Oz Museum

Wizard of Oz Museum

One of the newest attractions in Cocoa Beach is the Wizard of Oz Museum. It opened in 2022 by a local citizen who has been collecting Oz memorabilia for 35 years (and counting!) You’ll see signed copies of books, toys, collectibles, and much more.

Each case contains collectibles and material from different time ranges, starting with the beginning of L. Frank Baum’s writing career and moving through the decades since then. If you have small children who might get bored while you explore, there’s a small room where they can play and still be within your sight.

Once you’ve seen all of the items collected, step into the Wizard of Oz immersive experience. This room is a 360-degree movie (plus the floor!) showing illustrated video scenes from the book that really makes you feel like you’re walking along the Yellow Brick Road yourself. This part is fun for adults and kids alike!

8. Blink Your Eyes and Grant a Magical Wish

By Mike Halterman, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1475532

OK, while seeing I Dream of Jeannie Lane won’t give you magical powers, it’s quick and free and something all fans of the 1960s TV show will want to do. It’s a small street that intersects with A1A and you can park nearby to take a picture. Click here to open the location in Google Maps.

Why is it here? Cocoa Beach was the setting for the classic television show. Larry Hagman’s character, Major Tony Nelson, was an astronaut, so he obviously had to live close to Cape Canaveral!

If you want more Jeannie, head up to the Air Force Space and Missile Museum in Cape Canaveral, as they have an entire I Dream of Jeannie section.

9. Soar through the Trees at Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures and Zip Lines

Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures and Zip Lines

If your family enjoys ropes courses and ziplining, you’ll love Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures. There are courses for all ages and experience levels, so you won’t get bored, even if you have different age participants in your group. They even have a freefall experience called ZIPDROP.

10. Go Even Higher with a Helicopter Tour!

Cocoa Beach Helicopters

If you’ve got the nerve and want to see Cocoa Beach from an even higher perspective, book a helicopter tour with Cocoa Beach Helicopters. They offer many different options depending on what areas you want to see, how long you want to fly, and your budget. Tours range from $19.99 to $229.99 a person (at this time of this writing).

If you need proof for your friends back home, you can even add on a professionally edited video. Or, take your adrenaline to new levels with the “doors-off” option!

11. Spend Time in the Water…Obviously!

Cocoa Beach ocean and beach

You’re at the beach, so obviously you’re here for the water, at least in part! There are many ways to enjoy the ocean and intracoastal water. In fact there are so many ways that we’re planning a separate post about Cocoa Beach watersports. For now, we’ll just say that you can… swim, surf, sunbathe, jet ski, boat, water ski, fish, boogie board, body surf, stand-up paddleboard, kayak, canoe, windsurf, and parasail. And likely other things I’m not even thinking of. If you like to be on the water, you’ll never run out of options here!

Where to Stay in Cocoa Beach

Need a place to stay? Check the following recommended Cocoa Beach hotels and accommodations:

Conclusion

Cocoa Beach is a popular beach destination with lots of activities that still feels laid-back and casual. It’s an easy drive to Orlando, and halfway between two other Florida cities, Jacksonville and Miami. It’s an easy drive from the Orlando and Melbourne airports, too.

There are so many things to do in Cocoa Beach that you’ll never get bored! No matter whether you’re on a solo vacation, or visiting as a couple of family, Cocoa Beach is sure to entertain! So book your next Florida vacation on the Space Coast in beautiful Cocoa Beach.

Multiple Destinations

10 Wonders to See Before They Disappear

Timelines have been heard, stating that global warming can wipe out the Great Barrier Reef by 2030, while the glaciers in the Swiss Alps, Glacier National Park and on Mt. Kilimanjaro will disappear within 40 years; the ice melting in the poles will leave the polar bears extinct. These situations have driven hundreds of people to visit environmentally delicate areas. Here are some of the most amazing natural wonders to see, around the globe, before it’s too late.

Because these are sensitive areas, please following local laws and guidelines and be responsible!

1. Belize Barrier Reef

Blue Hole, Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef is one of the moist complex reef ecosystems in the world. This reef is home to sharks, manatees, rays, conch, sturgeons and spiny lobsters. Just like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Belize Barrier Reef has a slim existence today. A part of the Mesoamerican Reef that ‘s about 700 miles long, from Mexico to Honduras, the Belize Barrier Reef has lost a lot of its beauty, a lot of color in 1998, with a drop in its coral by 50 percent and a high amount of its typical staghorn coral. Due to global warming of the sea’s of the world, agricultural pollution, development and a gradual increase in tourism, the Belize Barrier Reef keeps losing its color even today. This has increased coastal development in the area and has also lead to the encroachment of cruise ships.

2. The Congo Basin

Congo River

The amazing Congo Basin is a part of the tropical rainforests that together produce 40 percent of the oxygen in the world and also serves as an important food, medical and mineral source. With an area of 1.3 million square miles and more, the Congo Basin has the second-largest rainforest in the world, right after the Amazon. The United Nations has clearly stated that about 70 percent of the forest, along with its one of a kind plants and wildlife could disappear by 2040 if appropriate measures are not taken to keep it safe. As the Congo Basin goes through six nations of the world, 10 million acres of its forest is degraded every year due to farming, logging, ranching, mining and guerilla warfare. The roads created by loggers and miners have given poachers and bushmeat hunters a chance to enter, which has led to the killing of endangered animals like bonobos, forest elephants, okapis and mountain gorillas. The climate has gone through a major change as the absorption of carbon dioxide has decreased along with the amount of rainfall due to the depletion of the forest.

3. The Dead Sea

Floating in The Dead Sea, Israel

The Dead Sea is 1,312 feet below sea level, which makes it the lowest place on the earth. It contains therapeutic minerals. With saline that’s 10 times more as compared to normal seawater, it’s impossible to drown in the Dead Sea. In the past 40 years, the Dead Sea has sunk down 80 feet and it keeps reducing by 13 inches every year. So much so, that the seaside resorts and restaurants are about 1 mile away from the shore today. The main source of the Dead Sea is the Jordon River and while the surrounding countries keep tapping the water of the Dead Sea, it has the possibility of disappearing within 50 years. To add to that, cosmetic companies and different potash producers use its minerals, which leads to further pressure. The much talked about Red-Dead Canal to channelize water 112 miles from the Red Sea is one solution that has been proposed. However, this solution could have a negative impact as it has the possibility of increasing seismic activity in the region.

4. The Everglades

Florida Everglades

The Everglades is a wetland of 2.5 million acres that covers mangroves, saw grass, cypress swamps and pine savannahs. This is the only place in the world where a common territory is shared by crocodiles and alligators. There are several issues that endanger this delicate wetland that includes farm pollution, aggressive species and intrusive development. 60 percent of the water in this region is being channelized to cities and farms nearby. Today, the Everglades is half of what it was in 1990. As the Everglades is the main habitat of the Florida panther, their total number has gone lower than 100. Within the next 40 years, the panthers living here might disappear completely as their habitat keeps depleting and along with them, 20 other species in the Everglades that includes turtles, wading birds and manatees are also endangered.

5. Madagascar

Lemurs in Madagascar

Thanks to the million years of complete isolation in the Indian Ocean, more than 80 percent of Madagascar’s flora and fauna are totally unique and can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Forest ecosystems are being destroyed by the burning for survival farms, poaching and logging. The 20 species of lemurs for which Madagascar is renowned are in danger of disappearing. The forests of Madagascar were 120,000 square miles wide at one point of time, but have reduced to 20,000. If solutions are not found the save the fourth-largest island in the world, its forest and its inhabitants will be erased within 35 years. There are small game reserves that take up only 5 percent of Madagascar and are not connecting. Thus, they don’t really provide enough of space for animals to travel. There are a few prevalent species that have not been recorded as yet and might just disappear before they can even be studied.

6. The Maldives

The Maldives

The Maldives is a country that’s filled with beautiful coral reefs and endangered fish that includes leopard sharks, Napoleon wrasse and manta rays. Scientists worry about the water level increasing if global warming continues to melt the ice caps. The 1,190 mini islands and atolls of the Maldives that are located at different areas of the Indian Ocean are just about 8 feet above sea level. To safeguard the citizens from the rising water levels, the President of the Maldives announced in 2008, that the government would start purchasing the land in India and other countries. A cabinet meeting was help underwater in 2009, so that the vulnerability of the country could be focused and stressed on.

7. The Poles

Mountains in Antarctica

The natural phenomena at the Poles that include Aurora Borealis, towering icebergs and majestic animals like whales, polar bears, penguins are completely one of a kind and truly inspiring. The largest non-profit ocean research group in the world, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has made a prediction, stating that about 80 percent of the total population of emperor penguins in Antarctica will be erased, while the others will come close to extinction if global warming goes on. Due to a constant loss of sea ice, the polar is also endangered today in the Arctic. The number of polar bears has decreased by 3 percent per decade since the 1970’s. A decrease of the sea ice at the poles will also decrease the entire ecosystems with time. The phytoplankton that grows under sheets of ice, feeds zooplankton and crustaceans like krill that are on the food chain for fish, whales, seals, penguins and polar bears. It has been predicted that within a period of 20 to 40 years, ice will no longer form in Antarctica.

8. Rajasthan, Ranthambore

Tigers in Rajasthan, India

This is the ultimate place in the world to see tigers. Today, the population of wild tigers in the world has fallen to as few as 3,200 and more than half can be found only in India. There was a time in 1900, where 100,000 tigers lived in India. The high drop in their numbers show how several changes have occurred to such a great extent over the past two centuries. For whatever reason, if intense efforts are not taken up, the amazing big cat may be extinct within our lifetime, possibly in 12 years. Their habitats have been reduced 93 percent and even though there are reserves across Asia, most are small and have no pathways between them that give tigers a way to roam around and actually live, as tigers are known to relocate. A rough calculation states that one tiger is killed every day, for use in Chinese traditional medicine.

9. The Tahuamanú Rainforest

Frog Tahuamanú Rainforest

The Tahuamanú Rainforest is a fantasy world that’s shared by parrots, macaws and several endangered creatures that include giant armadillos, ocelots, giant otters and jaguars. This incredible rain forest in Peru’s Madre de Dios region has some of the last old-growth stands of mahogany in South America. Illegal logging is depleting the rainforest today. The U.S. is solely responsible for purchasing 80 percent of the mahogany. A single tree can provide as much as $1 million. The roads built by loggers give farmers and hunters easy access to the forest. This has increased the number of indigenous people and continues to destroy the fragile ecosystem. Gold mining has released mercury into the air and water in the nearby areas.

10. The Yangtze River Basin

Yangtze River

The Yangtze River Basin is home to unique animals that include dwarf blue sheep, giant pandas, Yangtze finless porpoises and Siberian cranes, along with 400 million individuals. The impact that China’s massive $24 billion, Three Gorges Dam has created on the Yangtze River Basin can’t be figured out at the moment. Yet, the Chinese government and several others have acknowledged that the Yangtze River Basin is in danger of losing its exotic animal and marine life. Wiping out land for homeless farmers has led to deforestation, while floods have been caused in villages, farms, factories, and mines due to the reservoir. This has increased the Yangtze River’s current pollution due to shipping, industry, agriculture and raw sewage. Different landslides are also known to have occurred from time to time. Seismologists are worried about the occurrence of a disastrous earthquake if the water pressure goes above two fault lines.

Tourism can have positive as well as negative effects at the end of the day. It can add pressure to the areas that are already distressed or turn into a good source of income that will help in finding solutions and preserving endangered wonders. The places listed can be visited responsibly. The price tag may be a little higher as compared to an average vacation, yet, it’s like an investment made in Mother Earth.

Backpacking & Camping

Section Hiking The Appalachian Trail

In case you didn’t already know, the Appalachian Trail is the daddy of all hikes; definitely true in the United States, perhaps so worldwide. Very few people hike the entire distance, but section hiking the Appalachian Trail is very popular.

section hiking the Appalachian Trail

What is the Appalachian Trail?

Meandering its way up the Eastern seaboard from Georgia to Maine (or vice versa if that takes your fancy), this monolith of a hike is estimated at anywhere between 2,150 miles and 2,200 miles long. At any rate, no matter which figure you believe, it is an awfully long way to walk if you want to do the whole trail.

Do People Hike the Entire Trail?

Strangely though, there are on average around 2,000 limber souls that decide to try that very feat each year. Most start from Springer Mountain in Georgia and attempt to reach Mount Katahdin in Maine, usually trying to do so in around 5-6 months or so. Some would say that Katahdin itself is quite a trek, but it is just a small step for the thru hiker. Sadly – as you would expect – many of them drop out along the way; usually only around 4-500 end up doing the full distance.

Appalachian trail, a section in Virginia

What is Section Hiking the Appalachian Trail?

You can of course hike the Appalachian Trail in a variety of ways; there are the thru hikers who have already been mentioned, but you can always section hike, or even day hike. Just because you have no intention of doing the full trail in one go, doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of seeing some of the best sights that North America has to offer – as well as some of the best wildlife.

Section hikers do just that – hike the trail in sections, fully aiming to do the whole thing but piece by piece. It is a very lucky person that has a boss willing to give them 6 months off to complete something so trivial, so there are a huge number of people that take a couple of weeks in the year and start where they left off. Obviously, averaging 20 miles a day – a feat in itself – would mean you would only conquer a tenth of the entire trail per year; so be prepared for the long haul if you ever think of going down this road.

Of course, you don’t HAVE to cover all 2000+ miles when section hiking the Appalachian Trail; it’s just a common goal.

How does Section Hiking Differ from Day Hiking?

Day hikers are very commonplace. You’ll find them in many of the towns and information centers around the trailheads, stocking up on food and water for the day and heading out into the great unknown whether they are alone, or even with the family.

Which is Best?

Well, that depends on you! If you’re a hardcore hiker, comfortable in the elements and have the time to spare, maybe you want to hike the complete trail. But most people will be day hikers (if they don’t want to spend one or more nights) or section hikers. It’s certainly an easier way to go for most of us.

No matter which way you decide to take to the Appalachian Trail, you obviously need to be prepared. A suitable pack filled with extra layers of clothing, food and water are essential, even if you are only out on the trail for the day; the weather can change in an instant so waterproofs are essential. Also, despite the trail being marked regularly by the AT’s blazes, there is definitely no harm in taking a map and compass; even if you know where you are going, you’ll want to try and figure out how long you are going to be – nobody wants to be out on the AT at nightfall without a tent and some provisions.

However you tackle the Appalachian Trail, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the experience; and you’ll probably enjoy the rest at home afterwards even more!

For more information, visit the official website here.

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